Here are a few sites that are great for seeing the unique wildlife of New Hampshire:
Description: The Seabrook-Hampton estuary and harbor is an excellent place for year-round birding. The time of year and the tides determine what’s on view.
Viewing Information: Seabrook is a reliable place to find migrating and wintering waterfowl such as common loons, common goldeneyes, buffleheads, and common and red-breasted mergansers. Roseate, Forster’s, and common terns make appearance in July and August. In August and September, look for black-bellied and semipalmated plovers, killdeer, whimbrels, ruddy turnstones, sanderlings, and several kinds of sandpipers. A variety of gulls visits the area, including Bonaparte’s, ring-billed, herring, and great black-backed.
Directions: From Hampton Beach State Park, continue south on Route 1A for 0.7 mile. Look for the paved parking lot on the west side of Rte. 1A.
Ownership: Town of Seabrook (603) 474-3311
Size: 1800 acres Closest Town: Seabrook
Beaver Brook Association
Description: The Beaver Brook Association founders had genuine foresight when they began their land protection efforts more than thirty years ago: they chose what is now one of the fastest growing areas in New Hampshire. Their land encompasses fields, ponds, wetlands, and woods, and is overlaid with 35 miles of trails. Much of the land serves as a forestry and wildlife management demonstration area. The association offers extensive education programs for youth and adults.
Viewing Information: More than 125 species of birds have been recorded in the area. The land supports an abundance of small mammals such as squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbit, and provides important habitat components for white-tailed deer. Beavers are active in the wetlands, ponds, and brooks.
Directions: To reach Beaver Brook Association lands, take Route 122 south from Hollis. Turn right onto Ridge Road and drive approximately 1 mile. A parking area and the main facility are on the right. Five parking areas in all provide access to the land.
Ownership: Beaver Brook Association (603) 465- 7787
Size: 2,000 acres Closest Town: Hollis
PONEMAH BOG WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Description: The sanctuary features a 3-acre pond surrounded by a floating sphagnum mat, all encircled by oak and pith pine woods. The bog is in a kettle hog created by the retreat of the glaciers. Classic bog plants such as leatherleaf, bog laurel, and tamarack grow here. Visit in mid-May to see a spectacular display of Rhodora. You can also find insect-eating plants: pitcher plants, sundews, and bladderworts. A trail, a boardwalk, and a viewing platform allow you to get a close up view of life in the bog, but be prepared for wet footing. A trail guide is available.
Viewing Information: Bird life in the sanctuary includes rufous-sides towhees, blue jays, tree swallows, common yellowthroats, mourning and Canada warblers, and song sparrows. Watch for green herons and other waterfowl, woodpeckers, and belted kingfishers. Occasionally, muskrats make their home in the bog. You can sometimes find signs of red foxes, raccoons, and other visitors from the nearby woods.
Directions: From the junction of Routes 101 and 101A, go east on Rte.101A for about 0.5 mile, then turn left onto Rte. 122. Take Stearns Road on your right, and go about 1.6 miles. Turn south onto Rhodora Drive and go straight ahead to park for the sanctuary.
Ownership: ASNH (603) 224-9909
Size: 75 acres Closest Town: Milford
AMOSKEAG FISHWAYS LEARNING CENTER
Description: Operated under a unique public/private partnership, which includes Public Service of New Hampshire, New Hampshire Fish and Game, the Audubon Society of New Hampshire, and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, this environmental education center is open year-round. A fish ladder operates from late April through mid-June as part of the Atlantic salmon and American shad restoration program. The center is located on the Merrimack River at a hydro-power generating facility. It offers a full spectrum of educational programs and exhibits about the Merrimack River.
Viewing Information: From late April to mid-June, visitors have a unique opportunity to watch both resident and anadromous fish use the fish ladder. An aquarium allows you to see a variety of fish at any time of the year. The Amoskeag Fishways site provides excellent opportunities to see bald eagles during the winter. Watch for a variety of ducks such as the common goldeneyes, American black ducks, mallards, and mergansers in the open water below the dam. Landscaping for wildlife has made the site attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and a wide variety of songbirds. During the spring warbler migration, thousands of birds pass through the area on their way up the Merrimack River corridor. Summer residents include scarlet tanagers, red-eyed vireos, mockingbirds, and catbirds, rose-breasted grosbeaks, Baltimore orioles, and belted kingfishers.
Directions: From Route 3 (Daniel Webster Highway), take exit 6, Amoskeag Bridge. Turn right on Fletcher Street just past the Inn at Amoskeag.
Ownership: Public Service of New Hampshire (603) 626 FIS
Size: 3 acres Closest Town: Manchester
SPNHF CONSERVATION CENTER/MERRIMACK RIVER OUTDOOR EDUCATION AND CONSERVATION AREA
Description: The conservation area provides a fine example of Merrimack River bluff and floodplain landscapes. The passive solar headquarters of the SPNHF(Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forest) is at the top of the bluff, surrounded by oak, white pine, and pitch pine forest. Educational activities are controlled on this site.
Viewing Information: In late April and early May, birders walk the trails to see the array of warblers that use the river corridor. In summer, look for raptors, including red-tailed hawks, kestrels, and ospreys; you may see a bald eagle in the winter. Bank and rough winged swallows, brown thrashers, and rufous-sided towhees are common sights in the summer months. Watch for American black ducks, mallards, and ring-necked ducks along the river. Pileated woodpeckers leave evidence of their visits on the bluff. Look for signs of deer, beavers, and other mammals.
Directions: From Interstate 93 in Concord, go east on I-393 to exit 2. Turn right and go 1.1 miles, then turn onto Portsmouth Street. The Conservation Center’s driveway is 0.2 mile on the left; or, continue an additional 0.2 mile to the trail parking lot on the left.
Ownership: SPNHF (603) 224-9945
Size: 95 acres Closest Town: Concord
SEWALL’S FALLS RECREATION AREA
Description: The wild and scenic corridor of the Merrimack River cuts through the land here just as it did two hundred years ago. Located in the state capital, Sewall’s Fall Recreation Area provides trails and river access. The north end of the area has a boat launch; at the south end, a small park sits among the remains of an old power generating facility.
Viewing Information: A walk along the river’s edge reveals many of the secrets of this special place. Great blue herons and ospreys feed here. Be on the lookout for spotted sandpipers, tree and bank swallows, and belted kingfishers; watch for evidence of minks, otters, and raccoons. This section of the river provides important habitat for Atlantic salmon and freshwater mussels.
Directions: The north end of the recreation area is accessed from Sewall’s Falls Road. Take exit 17 off interstate 93. Head east on Hoit Road. Turn right on Mountain Road and drive approximately 1 mile, then turn right on Sewall’s Falls Road. The entrance to the parking area is on the left, shortly after you cross a bridge.
Ownership: NHFG (603) 271-3211
Size: 136 acres Closest Town: Concord
HOIT ROAD MARSH WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA AND THE RILEY LOT
Description: Created by a dam, the marsh has a large pond area and is surrounded by oak and white pine uplands.
Viewing Information: Located within 7 miles of the state capital, this area is a good place to see wildlife. During the fall, visitors can see American black ducks, mallards, green-winged teal, and Canada geese. In the spring and early summer, wood ducks and hooded mergansers use the wood duck nest boxes. Look for wading birds, such as green and great blue herons, along the marsh edges. Tree swallows, belted kingfishers, and common yellowthroats are abundant in the summer. On the uplands, listen for ovenbirds and veeries. You may see moose, deer, otters, and beavers. An interpretive trail beginning on the Riley Lot explains the different types of habitat managements taking place here.
Directions: Take exit 17 off Interstate 93. Follow Hoit Road east for 3 miles. The marsh borders the north side of the road. Parking is available on the south side of the road opposite the dam as well as 250 yards farther east at the Riley Lot.
Ownership: Hoit Marsh: NHFG; the Riley Lot: City of Concord (603) 271-3211
Size: 209 acres Closest Town: Concord
RIVERLAND CONSERVATION AREA
Description: The Merrimack River shaped this land and continues to be a major influence on it. The land includes river frontage, two oxbow ponds, wetlands, fields, and woods. The area has several trails, including a boardwalk and a viewing platform at one of the oxbow ponds. A parking area provides canoe and rowboat access to the pond. There is a piece of private land in the middle of the area; please be respectful of the landowner’s privacy.
Viewing Information: During spring warbler migration in May, use the area to view birds that nest the farther north. In the summer, the area is home to bank and rough-winged swallows; eastern bluebirds; field, swamp, and song sparrows; great-blue herons; red-tailed hawks; chestnut-sided warblers; and rufous-sided towees. Watch for the abundant turtles and frogs. Along the river, look for the signs that raccoons have been feeding on the freshwater mussels. The ponds and river support a variety of fish, including largemouth and smallmouth bass, sunfish, horned pout, and pickerel.
Directions: Take exit 17 off Interstate 93. Head west on Route 4 for 0.2 mile. Turn right on Old Boyce Road. Keep left at the fork, veering onto Riverland Road. Follow Riverland Road to Oxbow Pond Road. The parking area is at the end of Oxbow Pond Road.
Ownership: Town of Canterbury (603) 783-4866
Size: 90 acres Closest Town: Canterbury
Information Courtesy of New Hampshire Wildlife Viewing Guide by Judith K. Silverberg.